Table of Contents,
- 1 Overview
- 2 What Is a Bail Bond and How Does It Work?
- 3 Bail Bondsman Requirements
- 4 The Process of Florida Bail Bonds
- 5 How Much Do Bail Bonds in Florida Cost?
- 6 What Is the Role of a Bail Bondsman?
- 7 Steps to Becoming a Bail Bondsman in Florida
- 8 Step 1: Acquire the Necessary Experience
- 9 Step 2: Fill Out the Application Completely
- 10 Step 3: Get Your License
- 11 #1. Submit an Application for Licensure
- 12 #2. You Must Pass the Exam
- 13 #3. Get Your License
- 14 #1. Private Detective/Private Investigator
- 15 #2. Process Server
- 16 Training and Education Options in Florida
- 17 Bail Bondsman Salary in Florida
A person arrested for a criminal offense in Florida may be required to remain in jail pending a trial. If a judge permits it, the offender can return home after posting bail as a guarantee that he will remain in the city. The amount of bail is determined by the judge based on the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the offense, and whether or not the defendant poses a risk of failing to appear in court. A defendant, on the other hand, who cannot afford to pay bail can employ a bail bondsman to acquire a surety bond on his behalf because bail is normally set at a high price, putting the need for a bail bondsman over the roof. This article describes how to become a bail bondsman in Florida.
This includes requirements, processes, and basically every piece of detail you should know moving forward.
What Is a Bail Bond and How Does It Work?
The defendant has the option of paying the full sum of bail determined by the judge. He or someone he knows can post a bail bond if he can’t afford bail. A bail bond is a type of surety bond that guarantees the defendant will not flee the city before his trial. It isn’t the full sum of the court-ordered bail, but it guarantees full payment if the defendant violates his agreement.
A bail bondsman, also known in Florida as a Limited Surety Agent, helps to secure funds for those seeking bail. Bail bondsmen don’t keep bail funding on hand. Instead, they request bonds from a surety agent. This middleman approach is necessary as surety agents don’t issue bail bonds directly to defendants because it’s too risky. However, they can and do provide bonds to reputable bail bondsmen with whom they’ve established positive working relationships.
As it’s the bail bondsman who is responsible for paying the entire bail amount if the defendant fails to appear at his trial, the defendant or his family has to provide him with collateral equal to the amount of bail. Collateral can include a car, house, jewelry or other assets.
If the defendant appears in court, the collateral is returned with the exception of the original downpayment, which the bail bondsman keeps as a fee. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail bondsman uses the collateral to pay the courts to cover the bail.
Bail Bondsman Requirements
Anyone wishing to become a bail bondsman in Florida must be a resident of that state and at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or G.E.D. Aspiring bail bondsmen must be U.S. citizens or legally authorized to work in the U.S.
In order to receive a temporary license and complete the required training hours to become a bail bondsman, the applicant must first undergo and complete a 120-hour certification course. Applicants must also pass the course with a score of 80 percent or higher. Anyone who fails the course three times must complete the 120-hour training again.
After receiving their certifications, aspiring agents can apply for a Temporary License for Resident Limited Surety Agent. They must also complete at least 1,540 hours and 12 months working with a licensed bail bonds agency. After that amount of time, the applicant can apply for a Resident Limited Surety Agent license. After meeting all the license requirements and passing the exam, applicants are officially bail bondsmen.
Other bail bondsman requirements include being of high character and integrity and not having a criminal background. Applicants also have to undergo background and reference checks. Former police and law enforcement professionals can’t be bail bondsmen nor can attorneys, judges, bailiffs or anyone in a position to arrest someone else. Anyone working in a prison or who is in a position to hold any kind of power over inmates in the prison system also can’t apply to become a bail bondsman.
The Process of Florida Bail Bonds
So, if you are arrested, you or your family will probably deal with a bail bond company unless you have enough money to post the entire amount. Usually, the amount of your bond is set according to the offense for which you were arrested. If you are arrested for a fairly minor criminal offense, and your bail is set at $5,000, then you would pay a bail bondsman $500 to avoid spending more time in jail. If you successfully show up for every scheduled court appearance, then your bail bondsman will happily keep your $500.
If you have a higher bond, you may have to provide the bondsman with security for the entire amount of the bond. In other words, you will put up your house, your car, or another asset which is worth the entire bond amount. You will likely sign a contract which states that asset is security for the bond. If you then “skipped bail,” perhaps leaving the state—or the country—the bail bondsman could place a lien on your home, car or whatever asset you put up.
The bail bondsman may actually have some control over what you do once you sign an agreement. The bondsman can require you to remain in a given area, to update them regularly, and to report your whereabouts. Should you neglect to show up to a court proceeding, the bondsman can find and arrest you, using whatever fore is necessary. (This is where the vigilante part of the business comes in).
If you disappear, failing to appear for your scheduled court dates, not only will the bail bondsman be looking for you, an arrest warrant will be issued by the court, and your bond will be considered in default. In the state of Florida, the fee for a bond is preset at 10 percent of the listed bond. Florida has also banned “bounty hunters,” only allowing the authorized bond agent to pursue and detain a person who has skipped bail. Under Florida Statutes, Section 648.30, A bail bondsman must be qualified and licensed, and may not “apprehend, detain, or arrest a principal on bond…unless that person is qualified, licensed and appointed…”
There is one exception to the 10 percent rule, which is when a bail bondsman must post a Federal bond on your behalf. Federal bonds require 15 percent of the total amount. It is also important to note that, in some cases, you may be required to post a bond for each individual charge if you are facing multiple charges.
How Much Do Bail Bonds in Florida Cost?
A price must be paid in order to get a bail bond. If the bail amount is less than $750, a Florida bail bond costs $100. The fee is 10% of the bail amount if the bail is set at more than $750. If the defendant is unable to meet the bail bondsman’s criteria, he has two options: remain in custody pending trial or request a second hearing with the judge to try to reduce the bail sum.
What Is the Role of a Bail Bondsman?
A bail bondsman, also known as a Limited Surety Agent in Florida, assists persons seeking bail in securing funds. Bail bond companies do not retain bail money on hand. Instead, they ask a surety agency for bonds. And because it is very hazardous for surety agencies to offer bail bonds directly to defendants, this middleman system is required. They can, and do, give bonds to respectable bail bond companies with whom they have a good working connection.
Furthermore, because the defendant or his family must provide the bail bondsman with collateral equal to the amount of bail if the defendant fails to appear at his trial, the defendant or his family must provide him with collateral equal to the amount of bail. A car, a house, jewelry, or other assets can be used as collateral.
If the defendant arrives in court, the collateral is restored, save for the original downpayment, which is kept by the bail bondsman as a fee. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail bondsman will use the collateral to pay the bail amount to the courts.
Steps to Becoming a Bail Bondsman in Florida
Bail bond agents can obtain one of three licenses from the Florida Division of Insurance:
- The license for a Temporary Bail Bond Agent
- The license for a Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent
- Professional Bail Bond Agent
Basically, before seeking licensure as a professional or limited bail bond agent, you must first get a temporary bail bond agent’s license. Except for temporary bond agents, all bail bond agents have the authority to execute and sign bonds, manage collateral receipts, deliver bonds and defendants to jail, and run bail bond companies.
Professional bail bond agents are allowed to use their own money as collateral for court-ordered bail bonds.
Continue reading to learn how to get a temporary bail bond agent license (which expires after 18 months) and a permanent bail bond agent license.
- Temporary Resident Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent
A temporary resident limited surety agent license, often known as a temporary bail bond agent license, permits a person to practice as a bail bond agent under supervision while gaining the experience needed to become a fully licensed professional. Individuals who want to get a temporary license must meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- Be a Floridian
- Be employed and supervised by a licensed bail bond agent if you are a US citizen or legal alien with the right to work in the US.
- You must not have been convicted of a felony or a crime that resulted in more than a year in imprisonment.
- If you meet these requirements, you can become licensed by following the processes outlined below.
Step 1: Acquire the Necessary Experience
Temporary bail bond agents must have completed 120 hours of a basic criminal justice certification course with an 80 percent or better pass mark. In order to become a bail bond agent, you must also complete a correspondence course offered by the University of Florida. Also, you must complete all of your coursework within four years after applying To become a licensed temporary bail bond agent in Florida.
You and your supervising bail bond agent must file an affidavit under oath certifying that you are actively engaged as a bail bond agent once you have finished the educational requirements.
Step 2: Fill Out the Application Completely
The Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Service must approve temporary bail bond agents. The application involves submitting three notarized declarations, a full-face photograph, the bail bond appointment form, the $90 license fee, and a $50 application fee.
Temporary bail bond agents must be fingerprinted and pay a $48.55 fingerprinting fee to the fingerprint vendor.
The education provider will submit the agency confirmation that you passed within 20 days after finishing your pre-licensing classes.
Step 3: Get Your License
You will receive your temporary bail bond agent license once you have completed the requirements above. The 18-month temporary license is valid. You can apply for a bail bond agent license after completing one year of full-time job experience (at least 1,540 hours). Supervisors of temporary bail bond agents are required to report to the Agency on a monthly basis.
- Limited Surety (Bail Bond) Agent or Professional Bail Bond Agent
You can apply to become a licensed resident limited surety (bail bond) agent or a professional bail bond agent after holding a temporary bail bond agent license for a year and accumulating 1,540 hours of work experience. Professional bail bond agents, unlike limited surety agents, put their own money up as collateral for a bail bond. However, to become a licensed agent, you must first meet the age and background requirements listed above. Then you must complete the steps below.
#1. Submit an Application for Licensure
All applicants seeking bail bond agent licenses must submit an application and pay a $50 application fee* as well as an $80 bail bond agent charge. You must also provide the following items in addition to the completed application and license fees:
Three sworn declarations from law-abiding citizens
A passport-sized image taken recently
Individuals interested in becoming licensed professional bail bond agents must additionally submit the following documents:
- The cost of a bail bond agent’s filing
- The copy of a financial statement
All bail bondsmen must have their fingerprints taken and pay a $48.55 fingerprinting fee.
#2. You Must Pass the Exam
The Florida Insurance Licensing Exam is required for both limited and professional bail bond brokers. Before taking the exam, you must first get authorization from the Agency. The exam for bail bond agents is a 60-question, one-hour exam. Within a 12-month period, candidates may take the exam five times. To pass, candidates must properly answer 70% of the questions. You must retake the 120-hour approved basic criminal justice certification course if you fail the exam three times. The state exam costs $42.
#3. Get Your License
You will become a licensed bail bond agent in the state of Florida after completing the above requirements. The Agency must appoint you in order for your license to be legitimate. Licenses that have not been appointed will expire after four years.
Every two years, by the end of the licensee’s birth month, bail bond brokers must complete 14 hours of continuing education (CE). Five hours of law and ethics and nine hours of elective credits are required for CE credits.
- Related Professional Opportunities
Many bail bond agents augment their income by working in ancillary fields such as private investigation or process serving. Both occupations provide essential experience for your bail bond agent career. Some of these fields include;
#1. Private Detective/Private Investigator
For their clients, private investigators or private detectives look into a variety of facts, including personal information, financial data and patterns, and legal information. To work as a private investigator in Florida, you must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen or legal resident with the right to work in the United States, free of felonies or other criminal records, and free of mental disorder. Visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to learn more about licensing kinds and requirements.
#2. Process Server
In Florida, a bail bond agent may begin their career as a process server or operate as both a process server and a bail bond agent. The court’s legal activities are communicated to defendants, witnesses, and other interested parties through process servers. A process server in Florida must be certified by the 12th Judicial Circuit. Process servers must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and examination, and post a $5,000 bond.
Instructions on how to become a process server in the state are provided by the 12th Judicial Circuit.
Training and Education Options in Florida
Although obtaining a degree or other qualification in criminal justice could make you a more marketable bail bond agent in Florida, however, you are not needed to have one. Bail bond brokers should concentrate on two-year criminal justice and private investigation programs. Individuals who are not sworn law enforcement officers can receive training at several police academies.
Bail Bondsman Salary in Florida
The average Bail Bondsman salary in Florida is $40,258 as of June 28, 2022, but the range typically falls between $36,630 and $44,972. Bail bondsman typically do make a base, traditional salary if they don’t own their own bail bonds company, and then earn even more through the percentages collected from the bonds they issue (typically 10 percent of whatever the bond is. They typically range between $500 and $100,000.) The following is the average salary for bail bondsman in Florida, without the bond percentages included as reported by indeed.com, which aggregates salaries from current job listings to arrive at an estimate:
- Jacksonville: $24,000
- Miami: $22,000
- Tampa: $25,000
- St. Petersburg: $25,000
- Orlando: $24,000
Q: What is a bail bondsman? A: A bail bondsman, also known as a bail agent or bond agent, is a person who provides surety bonds to secure the release of a defendant from jail.
Q: What are the requirements to become a bail bondsman in Florida? A: In Florida, you must meet the following requirements to become a bail bondsman:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a resident of Florida
- Complete a 120-hour pre-licensing course
- Pass the Florida Department of Financial Services Bail Bondsman Exam
- Obtain a $5,000 bail bond surety bond
- Submit an application to the Florida Department of Financial Services
Q: What is a pre-licensing course, and where can I take it? A: The pre-licensing course is a 120-hour course that covers the basics of bail bond law and practice. It can be taken online or in-person from a state-approved provider.
Q: What does the Florida Department of Financial Services Bail Bondsman Exam cover? A: The exam covers topics such as Florida laws and regulations related to bail bonds, ethics, and the bail bond process.
Q: How do I obtain a $5,000 bail bond surety bond? A: You can obtain a surety bond from a licensed insurance company or bonding agency. The bond must be in the amount of $5,000 and must be filed with the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Q: What is the application process for becoming a bail bondsman in Florida? A: To apply to become a bail bondsman in Florida, you must submit an application to the Florida Department of Financial Services. The application will require you to provide personal information, employment history, education and training, and a criminal background check.
Q: Are there any other requirements to become a bail bondsman in Florida? A: Yes, in addition to meeting the above requirements, you must also maintain a valid insurance license and complete continuing education courses to renew your license every two years.
Q: How much does it cost to become a bail bondsman in Florida? A: The cost of becoming a bail bondsman in Florida can vary, but it typically includes the cost of the pre-licensing course, exam fee, surety bond premium, and application fee. Expect to spend at least a few thousand dollars to cover all the necessary expenses.
Q: How much can I expect to earn as a bail bondsman in Florida? A: The income of a bail bondsman in Florida can vary depending on factors such as the number of clients and the size of the bonds they write. However, the average salary for a bail bondsman in Florida is around $50,000 to $60,000 per year.